Brit appetite for holidays undiminished

Brits have lost none of their appetite for travelling abroad, with trips in 2015 seeing the biggest rise in 18 years.

The number of trips overseas taken by UK residents in 2015 jumped 9.4 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics, the largest jump since 1998. In 2015, Brits took 65.7m foreign holidays or business trips.

The rise is in spite of a number of high-profile incidents around the world, from Paris to Tunisia, as holidaymakers prove undeterred in their appetite for visiting other countries.

Spain was the most popular country for UK tourists, with 13 million trips to the country during 2015, making up almost one-fifth of the year’s overall total. Brits spent £39 billion abroad, compared to foreigners spending £22.1 billion on visits to the UK, the widest the spending gap has been since 2008. (France were the biggest visitors to the UK, with 4 million trips recorded in 2015, ahead of the Germans and Americans, with 3 million each.)

As summer approaches, Brits’ minds are already turning to sunny getaways, with ABTA, the Travel Association, reporting that 65 per cent of those planning to take a holiday overseas have already booked. ABTA is urging those who plan to go away not to leave it too late.

Research suggests that those leaving it late are not bargain hunters. When those planning a holiday but have not yet booked it were asked why they had not yet booked their holiday, waiting for a last minute bargain was way down on the list with only 15 per cent people giving this as a reason. Personal finance and personal circumstances (e.g. family illness) topped the list of given reasons why Brits are planning a holiday but have not yet booked it.

The Western Mediterranean is the most sought-after area for summer breaks, with notable increases in bookings to destinations such as Spain (26 per cent), Portugal (29 per cent) and Cyprus (18 per cent). This is partly due to a drop in business to traditionally popular destinations like Tunisia and Egypt, following high-profilt unrest and changes to Foreign Office travel advice.

However, a drop in visitor numbers to Turkey also makes it a good option for late bookers, notes ABTA, which also highlights Greece as having availability, as long as travellers are flexible over dates and islands.

ABTA advises Brits to consider alternative destinations such as areas, cities and resorts within popular destinations or the northern coasts of Spain and Portugal and cities further inland.

“People are also looking toward Eastern European destinations including Croatia and Bulgaria for their summer holiday. Holidaymakers should also consider traveling outside of the peak summer months of July and August with the weather around the Mediterranean remaining good until well into October and often beyond,” adds the ABTA.